Climate & Energy Blog

New USDA report on honey bee losses to be released this week

Posted May. 13, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

Harvard study points to pesticide exposures as key contributor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week the USDA is set to release its annual report on honey bee overwintering losses, which are expected to be significant due to several contributing factors, including exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides. This class of pesticides was identified as a key factor in bee declines by a Harvard study released last week. The European Union has banned the three most widely used neonicotinoids based on a strong body of evidence that these pesticides can kill bees outright and make them more vulnerable to pests, pathogens and other stressors. Yet these pesticides are still widely used in the U.S., despite massive bee losses that threaten vital food crops, from almonds in California to apples in Washington.

Friends of the Earth recently released a report exposing the tobacco-style PR tactics employed by pesticide companies like Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta to delay action and manufacture doubt about the science linking pesticides to the bee crisis.

Friends of the Earth makes the following experts available for immediate comment:

Lisa Archer, Director, food and technology program, Friends of the Earth, (510) 978-3145, larcher@foe.org
Lisa Archer works to ensure food, consumer products and emerging technologies are safe for people and the environment. For more than a decade, she has developed and led successful corporate accountability, markets and legislative campaigns focused on environmental health and justice. Lisa has been quoted in numerous national media outlets and is a frequent broadcast news contributor. She leads Friends of the Earth’s BeeAction.org campaign.

Michele Simon, JD, MPH, Eat Drink Politics, (510) 465-0322, michele@eatdrinkpolitics.com
Michele Simon is a public health lawyer specializing in legal strategies to counter corporate tactics that harm the public’s health. She has been researching and writing pieces about the food industry and food politics since 1996, including a recent report called "Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits." Her book, Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back, was published by Nation Books in 2006.

Susan Kegley, PhD, Pesticide Research Institute, (510) 705-1874, skegley@pesticideresearch.com
Susan Kegley is the main author of the 2013 Gardeners Beware report. Dr. Kegley has expertise in environmental, organic, inorganic and analytical chemistry, with an emphasis on pesticides and heavy metals and their fate and transport in the environment. She has extensive experience in toxicology and risk assessment, policy analysis, legal consulting, sampling and analytical methods, data analysis and data management and technical writing for both professional and non-technical audiences.

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Communications Contacts:
Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org
Stacy Malkan, (510) 848-5701, stacydmalkan@gmail.com

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